Senior Bowl Wrap Up: Notre Dame Players Finish On A Strong Note
Early in the week Irish Breakdown discussed the opportunity that awaited four former Notre Dame players that were set to participate in the Reese’s Senior Bowl. It’s hard to imagine the week going any better for three of the four players, and all four had strong moments.
Let’s wrap up the week for the former Irish standouts, who played on the victorious North squad.
CHASE CLAYPOOL, WIDE RECEIVER
Claypool needed to make a splash at the Senior Bowl if he wanted to have any chance at climbing up draft boards in what is a loaded wide receiver class. The 6-4, 229-pound wideout had some talking about him adding a few pounds and moving to a hybrid tight end position.
A strong performance at the NFL Scouting Combine in late February should eliminate that notion, but Claypool took a big step towards silencing that discussion, and climbing up draft boards, with a consistently effective performance throughout the week of practice.
That culminated with Claypool scoring a touchdown in the Senior Bowl.
NFL.com draft analyst Lance Zierlein named Claypool the top winner from the Senior Bowl practices, and DraftCountdown.com analyst Scott Wright named Claypool one of the top 10 stock up players from the week.
“Claypool started by acing the eyeball test at the weigh-in and never looked back. Not only did Claypool put that imposing size to good use throughout the week but he also showed nuance as a route runner and consistency tracked as one of the fastest players on the field at every practice. Not to mention Claypool is also an elite special teams prospect. Claypool has been getting lost in the shuffle of this extraordinarily deep wideout class but showed in Mobile why he’s a Day 2 talent and a better pro prospect than former teammate and third round pick Miles Boykin.”
TROY PRIDE JR., CORNERBACK
I have yet to read a respected analyst who didn’t come away thinking Pride was the best cornerback throughout the week of the Senior Bowl, and the former Irish cover man ended the week with a strong performance in the game.
In fact, Pride came away with a game-changing interception in the North victory.
The Draft Network analyst Jonah Tuls wrote that Pride helped himself more than any defensive back in attendance at the Senior Bowl.
“With LSU's Kristian Fulton, TCU's Jeff Gladney and Ohio State's Damon Arnette all absent from the Senior Bowl, the week was a prime opportunity for an under-the-radar cornerback to stand out. That cornerback was revealed to be Notre Dame's Troy Pride Jr. He was lights out in press and off man coverage all week long in the one-on-one drills against a talented wide receiver group. His speed and quickness on the boundary were expected, but he contested every catch point with aggressiveness and an opportunistic mindset, something he did not show much on his college tape. The biggest concern I had with Pride's tape was his assertiveness, and we got the most confident version of him yet. He was undoubtedly the best cornerback on the practice field, and then he followed up a dominant week with a 33-yard interception in the Senior Bowl. Pride helped his NFL draft stock more than any other defensive back in Mobile.”
Pro Football Focus also noted that Pride and safety Jalen Elliott were two of the biggest risers from the week.
The Athletic draft analyst Dane Brugler was also impressed with Pride’s performance.
“With the top-five senior corners in my rankings absent this week (Trevon Diggs, Kristian Fulton, Damon Arnette, Jeff Gladney and Bryce Hall), the cornerback talent in Mobile was unsurprisingly lacking, especially considering the receiver talent. But Pride was the one cornerback prospect who consistently stood out and held his own. Although he was beaten a few times, he had more wins during one-on-one’s than any other cornerback prospect, using his athleticism to blanket different types of receivers. Anyone who studied his Notre Dame tape knew he was fast — that wasn’t a surprise — but his ability to stay controlled mid-transition with little wasted motion was a welcome sight and something he didn’t consistently do in college, giving up too much spacing. Considered an early fourth-round pick entering the week, Pride now has a legitimate case to be one of the top-10 players drafted at his position.”
His strong performance already has John Shipley of Jaguar Report projecting Pride to the Jacksonville Jaguars in the second round of April's draft.
JALEN ELLIOTT, SAFETY
Elliott was rarely talked about throughout the week, but when the offensive players on the North squad voted who they felt was the best defensive back they faced it was Elliott who earned the top honor.
Not surprisingly, the little analysis that did come out about Elliott focused on his leadership, ability to communicate and coverage skills. Brugler noted that Elliott was one of 14 players he felt made money based on his Senior Bowl performance.
“While Troy Pride certainly flashed, his teammate from South Bend was one of the more consistent defensive backs all week. Occasionally on film, Elliott looked like a fish out of water in man coverage, giving up huge separation (see 2019 USC tape). However, that wasn’t the case during practices, showing enough fluidity and route recognition to stay attached to tight ends or backs. Elliott was also one of the few who consistently competed with Trautman, like on this rep during one-on-ones. The NFL feedback on Elliott entering the week was all over the place, from fourth round to priority free agent. But after his week in Mobile, there will be at least a few teams that push their grade into the solid Day 3 category.”
Along with Pride, Elliott was considered by PFF as a top riser up draft boards based on his performance throughout the week.
ALOHI GILMAN, SAFETY
Gilman got off to a strong start, showing impressive coverage ability early in the week of practice before a hamstring injury knocked him out for the week. Gilman was working with the first-team defense prior to his injury, and in limited reps he was able to make his presence felt with his speed and coverage ability.
Gilman will need to get healthy and perform well at the combine, but he met with a high number of NFL teams and made a strong impression on and off the field.